Foreign policy is a nexus of issues and relationships.. Once you get an important issue seriously wrong, it has ramifications across the whole. A seriously misguided enterprise like the occupation of Afghanistan spreads its poison across whole areas of foreign policy.
Only one such consequence, but a very bad one, is British support for the Karimov regime in Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian dictatorships. This is based on our “need” for Uzbekistan as a transit route for supplies to Afghanistan.
I had already noted the extraordinary enthusiasm of the current British Ambassador for promoting the Uzbek regime and apologising for past “misunderstandings” over Uzbekistan’s political system.
Now Joy is actively promoting Gulnara Karimova’s activities in the world of Fashion TV. That Chopard and Prado are shallow enough to be gulled by Gulnara’s billions is par for the course. For the British Ambassador to flank her at a press conference for her fashion show is unforgivable.
Note that the headline “British Diplomats Toadying to Uzbek Dictator’s Daughter” was written by Uzbeks, not by me.
The policy of backing dictators is in my view wrong in principle. But even in terms of realpolitik, it depends on a judgement of whether you believe extreme repression in Uzbekistan stops or increases the prospect of Islamic extremist violence. I think extreme regimes spawn violence and instability. The British government now has its money firmly on the dictator.
The real motivation is short term support for military occupation of Afghanistan. The Northern supply route, or “Northern Distribution Network” as the Pentagon calls it, is all important. I highly commend to you this extremely revealing report for the Center for Security and International Studies in the US.
Now the CSIS are bought and paid for cheerleaders for the Karimov regime and unquestioning supporters of the war in Afghanistan. They are extremely well connected in Washington and have excellent sources. This paper is a fairly definitive guide to the State Department view of Central Asia – and nowadays the FCO view of Central Asia is what the State Department tells them it is.
The CSIS position is reflected, for example, in the characterisation of the Andijan massacre as an “uprising”. Human rights and democracy are never mentioned as factors in the discussion of US relations with Uzbekistan. But nonetheless the paper does make some highly revealing statements:
The NDN was designed to provide redundancy to this critical Pakistan supply line and to help handle the surge of supplies associated with an increase of 21,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2009 and, with the recent announcement by the Obama administration, an additional 30,000 troops in 2010. This obvious need and vulnerability has placed the United States’ Afghanistan war resupply squarely in the hands of other nations….
The first misunderstanding concerned priorities and expectations. In the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia, the elite’s top national priority?”its overriding policy consideration?”is to maintain its hold on power. Additional considerations can and do exist, but they are necessarily secondary in the absence of democratic mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power. An attendant expectation is that international cooperation should strengthen the regime’s hold on power. At the very least, it cannot under any circumstances weaken it….
Crony capitalism and the enmeshment of ruling dynasties in moneymaking schemes mean that commercial shippers servicing the NDN are almost certain to be woven into the dense nexus of personal and state interests that characterize post-Soviet business.
This last is a very interesting admission. I have reported previously that Gulnara Karimova is making hundreds of millions of dollars from Pentagon supply contracts. Here you see it admitted, with a slight cover of academic coyness.
The core funding for the CSIS project is from Carnegie, and one of the authors, Andrew Kuchins, is a former director of the Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The CEIP this summer published a paper on much the same subject “written” by a certain “Professor” Gulnara Islamovna Karimova. Strangely Carnegie did not mention that she was the dictator’s daughter. The article in Gulnara’s name discusses supply to Afghanistan without mentioning her personal commercial interest in it. Yet again an example of the respectability the Washington establishment is trying to confer upon the Karimovs.
I gather that a visit by Hillary to visit Karimov is planned before the end of the year.